Friday, April 26, 2013

Guder Heinrich - Good Henry

Looking out in the garden this afternoon, I was greeted by a reemergence of Chenopodium bonus-henricus, which is commonly known in English as Mercury, Goosefoot, Smearwort, Allgood, or Good King Henry.

Guder Heinrich - Chenopodium bonus-henricus
The latter term is the one that I find to be of most interest. This plant actually has nothing to do with any King Henry, and any reference to a king is absent from both the taxonomic name and the Deitsch name, both instead meaning "good Henry," or, perhaps more accurately, "good Heinz," "good Heinrich," or "good Heinzelmann." 

These terms all translate to a variety of wights and gnomes, thereby relating the plant to magical uses associated with Elves and Kobolds (see Grimm, Jacob. Teutonic Mythology, vol. II. New York: Dover Publications, 2004, pp. 501-509). 

Modern depictions of Elves show them as being friendly to humans; indeed, some lore implies that some male human spirits go on to reside with (and to be counted among the Elves). However, there are also many indications that Elves are inclined to follow their own agendas and sometimes find humans to be annoying. Thus, their actions may sometimes even be detrimental. 

For example, there are quite a few compound words in Deitsch and concepts in Urglaawe that contain a form of "Elf" and carry a negative connotation. "Der Elbekeenich" ("the Elf King) appears shortly before one's death. The Elbedritsch is a trickster figure who can mislead those on spiritual journeys. A nightmare is an "Elbdraam" ("Elf Dream"), and an "Elfschuss" ("Elf Shot) is a sudden pain that appears in humans.

In the case of the latter two, there is some oral and written lore that indicates that the Elves may be presenting the dream or the shot as part of a service provided to a deity or an ancestral spirit in order to convey a particular message to the humans. Typically, an Elf Shot is not seen as resulting from a human sorcerer. However, there is an indication of there being one way for humans to employ Elves for hexes.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. 

"Guder Heinrich" is differentiated from an unrelated, highly toxic plant called "Schlechter Heinrich" (Mercurialis perennis or English: Dog's Mercury). 

In terms of esoteric beliefs, Guder Heinrich can be used magically as an offering, particularly through burning as incense, to Elves or other Wights to aid in a particular effort. Likewise, Schlechter Heinrich can be used in a similar manner to employ Elves for nefarious duties. 

Schlechter Heinrich is highly toxic and should not be ingested or handled recklessly. Likewise, the casting of hexes is equally toxic to the spirit. Fortunately, Guder Heinrich, when offered as incense, can break hexes brought about through Schlechter Heinrich. 

Additionally, Guder Heinrich is said to be sacred to Berchta. The leaves of the plant are in the shape of a gooses' footprint. Since Berchta has a splayed "goose foot" as a result of Her spinning, the appearance of the leaves most likely serves as the connection to the goddess.

On a less esoteric level, Guder Heinrich has medicinal and culinary uses. Although spinach has pretty much replaced Guder Heinrich in cookery, the plant may still be used as "poor man's asparagus" or as a side dish with rabbit or goose.

Deitsch botanist Christopher Sauer (Weaver, William Woys. Sauer's herbal cures, pp. 158-159. New York: Routledge, 2001.) describes Guder Heinich as being a temperate  herb with watery and nitrous salt elements. He saw it as a good herb for dissolution and stilling of pain and for helping to create good blood. He also saw it as a good poultice for angry wounds and as a constituent in a salve for hemorrhoids. Historically, a plaster of the leaves was frequently used to treat gout (Deitsch: die Gicht).

In the case of gout, we also have a known instance of Blanzeschwetze, or "plant conversation," that relates to the Guder Heinrich plant. On three consecutive days before the sun rises, approach a Guder Heinrich plant. Each day, if the ground around it is dry, pour some water at the base while chanting the Eiwaz rune. If the ground is wet, apply some rich soil to the base while chanting the Tiwaz rune. These serve as your offering to the plant. Then assume a comfortable position, hold a leaf or stalk of the plant in your left hand, and say the following Blanzeschwetze incantation:

Guder Heinrich Geeich die Gicht

Guder Heinrich!
Ich hab die Gicht,
Du hoscht die nicht!

[Uruz Roon dreimol]

Nemm die vun mir weck
Vergange unner dei Deck!


(English Translation)

Good Henry Against the Gout

Good Henry!
I have the Gout,
You have it not!

[Chant the Uruz rune 3x]

Take it away from me!
Dissolved under your cover!


Additionally, Guder Heinrich is also used medicinally to treat anemia (Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of herbal medicine, p. 188, New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2000).

The plant may be consumed like spinach.

Below is a Guder Heinrich Smoothie that is a modification of a Dark Green Smoothie published by Deitsch Master Herbalist, Rachel Weaver (Weaver, Rachel. Be your own "doctor," pp. 256-257. Reinholds, PA: Share-A-Care, 2010.

Disclaimer Again: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. 

Guder Heinrich Glattdrank

4 cups of Guder Heinrich (Chenopodium bonus-henricus)
2 bananas
3 tablespoons of pineapple concentrate
3 cups of water

Combine all ingredients (you may start with 1 banana and one tablespoon of pineapple and then add to taste) and completely liquefy all ingredients. I followed Weaver's advise to throw in a few ice cubes to make the drink nice and cold, and I enjoyed it. Weaver advises drinking two cups, refrigerating the remainder and then drinking throughout the day. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Fimffingergraut - Potentilla canadensis

Es Fimffingergraut (also called es Gansgraut) is known by many names in English, including Five Finger Herb, Goose Tansy, Helping Hand, and Cinquefoil. The taxonomic name for the genus is Potentilla. While Potentilla canadensis and Potentilla reptans are the species most commonly referred to in Deitsch lore, other species, including es Tormentill (en: Tormentil; Potentilla tormentilla or Potentilla erecta) could also be included. Tormentill is also considered a form of Fimffingergraut in Deitsch.

Tradition holds that the herb is to be collected on or after May 15 (or, in Christian lore, on Ascension Day, which is a bad day for things descending) and used as an astringent to combat dysentery or diarrhea.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. 

This is as good a time as any to introduce some of the Deitsch terms for bowel afflictions. Some of these terms present rather graphic imagery.

der Darrichfall or der Darrichlaaf (General terms)
die Schgidders ("the skids")
die Schpringers ("the trots")
die Dapperschpring ("the runs")

die Ruhr (General term; how this term relates to the Ruhr River in Germany, I can only guess)
die Flutter (Flux)
die Rotruhr ("red runs")
der Rotlaaf (rare term for extreme dysentery)

There are actually quite a few additional terms that present additional connotations, but these will suffice for now. Also, there are many, many other herbs that are used as remedies for these afflictions, but Fimffingergraut is an herb that is commonly available already this early in the year.

Early Deitsch botanist, Christopher Sauer, provides some other uses for Fimffingergraut, including chewing the root daily to prevent tooth decay (pdc: die Zaahfaulnis) and combining the juice of the plant with honey and  butter to alleviate consumption (pdc: die Auszehring or der Verbrauch). See Weaver, William Woys. Sauer's Herbal Cures. New York: Routledge, 2001, pp. 102-103.

Applied topically as a lotion or salve, Fimffingergraut can help to relieve hemorrhoids and to protect areas of damaged or burned skin. It may also be used as a remedy for throat infections, canker sores, irritable bowel syndrome (pdc: der Reissesdarrem, and colitis (pdc: der Grimmdarremfluss). See Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2000, p. 255. 

The use of Fimffingergraut as a remedy for a sore throat  is also reflected in Sauer's recipe (103) for a mouthwash to cure scurvy of the mouth (pdc: der Maulscharbock) and bad breath (pdc: der Maulgeruch). 

There is also a Deitsch myth that states that carrying Fimffingergraut on the person will prevent forgetfulness. This myth is supported by Sauer's (102) reference to repeatedly imbibing a decoction of the root (see below) to strengthen a weak head (forgetfulness; pdc: die Vergesslichkeet).

Regarding more esoteric traditions and uses, Fimffingergraut has a great many uses and associations. Many see this as a masculine herb associated with the god Ziu (Tyr). This relationship is due, most likely, to the myth that possessing the herb on one's person gives one the ability to stand before authorities and win one's just cases. Another reason for the association could be that the "five fingers" represent the hand Tyr sacrificed to bind the wolf Fenris.

There is a perhaps even stronger case for a feminine association with the goddesses Berchta and Holle. The clues are in the alternate names "Gansgraut" and "Goose Tansy" and in the date of May 15 for collection.

Both Holle and Berchta serve as the origin of Mother Goose and of the typical Church depictions of witches. Berchta is said to have one leg that looks like that of a goose, most likely due to a splay resulting from Her association with spinning. 

The traditional date to begin collection is also important on the Urglaawe calendar. The night of 15. Wonnet (May 14 into May 15) is the night in which the army of the Butzemenner defeat the Frost Giant  Fuffzehfux, thus allowing for the safe planting of all outdoor crops.  Fuffzehfux's arrival is due to the restoration of order in the land brought about by Holle's return to Hexenkopf. 

Holle and Berchta are seen as sister goddesses or as two aspects of the same goddess. Thus, Fimffingergraut is considered sacred to both.

Another aspect of Fimffingergraut is that of the Helping Hand. It is said that it can heal wounds when combined with salt and honey. It also is frequently set upon the menstruum of soaking herbal extracts to provide protective energies.

Akin to the uses for forgetfulness, there is a Deitsch tradition that says that rinsing an infusion of the herb over the head nine times will break hexes on the memory or the mind.

If only three fingers grow on the leaves of Fimffingergraut, then that serves as a warning from the plant that something is wrong with the soil and the crops may experience problems if the conditions are not corrected.

There are numerous Braucherei incantations that may be used with the afflictions that Fimffingergraut is used to remedy. Those will, over time, be posted on

Fimfingergraut Root Decoction


1 Loth (approximately 16 grams) of Fimffingergraut root
1/2 gallon of cool water

Insert the root into the water. Bring the water to a boil for "a short time" (typically about 2 minutes). Strain the root.

Sauer's Fimffingergraut Mouthwash


A handful of Fimffingergraut, including the roots

Half a handful of Scabious (pdc: die Schpellekisseblumm; Scabiosa columbaria)

Half a handful of Plantain (pdc: der Wegdredder or die Seiohre; Plantago major. pdc: der Wegerich Plantago lanceolata)

Half a handful of Rose Petals (pdc: die Ros; Rosa gallica)

Quarter-pound of Rose Honey

Half-Loth (approximately 8 grams) of Alum (pdc: der Allau)

Boil these herbs in two quarts of spring water until one quart evaporates. Then strain out the herbs using cheesecloth. Dissolve into the tea the quarter-pound of Rose Honey and the Half-Loth of Alum. 

Sauer's use included gargling and washing the mouth and gums frequently with this concoction.

Once again, the Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Baking Soda for Psoriasis (Schuppflechte or Schibbflechte))

This is a personal remedy that has made a huge difference in my life. I am one of those poor souls who has suffered from (as the old commercial says) "the heartbreak of psoriasis."

Over the years, I had used many over-the-counter medicines, including the coal tar shampoos, and also some of the anti-fungal prescription medicines. They all worked fairly well, at least in the beginning, but, over time, the effectiveness began to diminish. Also, I am not sure about the safety of some of these products.

Finally, one day, I was teaching a science lesson that included baking soda and its effect on ph levels. It dawned on me that baking soda could very likely change the ph levels of the surface of my scalp and make the environment inhospitable.

Of course, I found out later that this is a widely known remedy, including among the Deitsch. Why I did not know that before is beyond me.

So, instead of buying expensive coal tar shampoos, I took some distilled water, some castile soap, an ample (perhaps an overabundance, actually). I mixed them together in no organized proportion in a 16 oz. bottle. In my first experiment, I used arrowroot powder as a thickener. I added some vegetable glycerin as a moisturizer, and then I added in a few drops of essential oils.

 In my first experiment, I added four drops of rosemary essential oil (for its anti-fungal properties) and then four each of lemongrass essential oil and lime essential oil for fragrance. In later batches, I switched to rosemary, patchouli, and vetiver for a more woodsy scent.

I have made around ten batches of this over the last two years, and, admittedly, I have no firm recipe for this concoction. I have to shake it before using it, but that is a minor annoyance compared to how much this shampoo has alleviated my psoriasis. I still have to perfect the recipe, and, when I accomplish that, I will update this blog post.

Also, one of my colleagues is also trying baking soda on a patch of psoriasis on his leg, and he has reported some improvement after only three days.

If anyone has any recipes that can be shared for natural shampoos or soaps that use baking soda, please let me know!

Dandruff = die Schibb

Psoriasis = die Schibbflechte or die Schuppflechte. "Die Flecht" is akin to the concept of a lichen, therefore carrying a connotation of a fungal issue.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider.